The Good News?

Here’s an interesting story from the world of the media. The Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, two fairly respectable newspapers at opposite ends of the state, have provided, or are planning to provide, a supplement to one of their Sunday editions consisting of — get this — the New Testament. Local papers in Harrisburg, York and Lancaster are being targeted for the same thing. This is the brain child of the International Bible Society — Send the Light of Colorado Springs, Colorado, purportedly one of the world’s largest Bible ministries.

Their objective is to

“…reach the unsaved of this area,” said Jim Wakefield, a volunteer for the Philadelphia project. “The newspaper was selected since it could cover a widespread area at a reasonable cost, and then churches could continue any relationships that would develop.”

I don’t know, but does this sound just a tad silly to you? I know newspapers are privately owned and operated, and hence the limitations of the 1st Amendment’s proscriptions on religion don’t apply to them, but as the Fourth Estate, do they need to be so visibly tied to a particular religion? What next, copies of the Koran and the Upanishads? Are there not enough Bibles in the world, that if someone needs a copy, they don’t already have them, or at the very least, could steal one from the local Holiday Inn the next time they check in? The Gideons wouldn’t mind.

My local paper is being pragmatic.

However, the newspaper recognizes that it has readers who are not Christian and who have no interest in a New Testament, said David Newhouse, the executive editor.

“For that matter, there are probably readers who simply have several Bibles and don’t need another one,” he said. “So if this happened, we’d make sure to publicize places such as Bethesda Mission or other charities where people could donate any unwanted copies.”

I save the paper to use as starter fuel when I need to light a fire in the fireplace. So if I get one, I think I’ll save it for that, so that I can experience some Holy Smoke.

Clark wondered what the reaction would be if someone wanted to use a newspaper to distribute the writings of scientologist L. Ron Hubbard, for example.

Yes. One wonders. How about if we distribute The God Delusion?

Here’s what gets me though. They want to reach, and presumably save, the unsaved, by distributing a book. This is central Pennsylvania, often compared, favorably or unfavorably, depending on your point of view, with Alabama. If people here aren’t already saved, a free half-Bible stuffed in with the grocery coupons and window offerings isn’t going to save them. Besides, it takes a lot more than a free book to save people, I always thought. Don’t they need some follow-up, someone to knock on their doors and explain what’s in this book? Isn’t it necessary for one to turn off the intellect and accept what’s in the book on faith alone in order to be saved? If that’s the case, isn’t there a bit of an incongruity involved in distributing these bibles to people who actually read newspapers?

The whole concept seems doomed from the start.

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17 thoughts on “The Good News?

  1. Stories like this irritate me to no end. I guess I’m old school in that I expect the new media to provide news. Is there really so little going on in the world that valuable space should be squandered on an ancient text describing an evil god?

  2. “Their objective is to

    “…reach the unsaved of this area,””

    This is got to be one of the strangest delusional subplots in religious thinking, that if one is an unsaved rationalist/freethinker/secular humanist/methodological naturalist, it’s obviously because one hasn’t been exposed to the bible.

    Even if you tell them you’ve read the bible cover-to-cover, their answer for everything is still….more bible.

  3. I wonder if they actually think that there are “unsaved” people in America, who haven’t heard about Jesus? I guess they think we’re just sitting around reading our newspapers and have never heard of this bible thing. “If only they could see the new testament, they’d convert on the spot, right in front of their coffee and cornflakes.”

  4. Now, how many people would then bitch, whine, moan and complain about thousands, nay, tens of thousands, of copies of the holy book, the one true source of truth in the world, being thrown away (or recycled) like it was, say, the want ads? I remember (or I seem to remember (which is pretty much the same thing)) that, back when the right wing was pushing the anti-flag desecration anti-free speech amendment to gut the constitution, Trudeau published a flag in the Sunday comics and dared people to find a way to dispose of it without violating the proposed amendment ((((Wife))) just pointed this out: the Post Office prints postage stamps with the flag which we then lick, put on an envelope, which the Post Office then covers with ink and print, and, when the reciever recieves it, gets thrown away (((Wife)))ly Rant). When the nude tetament does go in the paper, if one of our local paper takes the money and prints it, I think I should write a letter to the editor asking how many people threw away the Bible (well, half a bible). Just to stir the pot, you know.

    Sorry for the long post. It really is an occupational hazard.

  5. I want to know if the half-bible comes with one of those small sampler boxes of cereal.

    Actually, I have no objection to idiots spending their money on advertising. If I had a subscription to the paper, I might call the offices and ask the editor-in-chief if I could trade in my New Testament for a free copy of On the Origin of Species. I’d also inquire whether there’s a complete Shakespeare in the works for the future.

    I think that all throwaways should be collected and deposited en masse in a dumpster at the newspaper’s offices. If it overflows, too bad. That way, the publisher would both get the message and be able to recycle all that paper.

  6. This is ridiculous. It’s like if you were to turn on the TV to watch CNN, and they read a bible passage before each newscast. Or walking into McDonalds and seeing bible passages written on your hamburger’s wrapper. They’re lucky they’re in such a religious state, anywhere else and they’d lose alot of business.

  7. Astonishing, simply astonishing. Yes, these newspapers can print whatever they want; but do they want to print something which makes it clear that they consider themselves an official propaganda arm of Christianity? Do they plan to follow up by printing scriptures of any other religion practiced by subscribers? I think not.

  8. It never ceases to crack me up how these Bible thumpers believe we are in dire peril and need to be “saved”!

    Maybe it’s the contrarian in me, but I think we need to go the other way. Put the Bible and Jayzus into everything until a majority of the American people get so sick of it that the Bible thumpers will be relegated to the fringes of society where they belong!

  9. I keep forgetting that my local paper, the one that I’m sure will pass out these free half-bibles, runs a weekly section devoted solely to Religion. I sure they wouldn’t do it if it didn’t help sell papers and advertising. Hell, there’s ads for churches in there. Why do churches need ads?

    And, Blue. It’s good to see you back in the swing of things.

  10. Uggh, you mention that newspapers are privately owned and operated. So isn’t it up to them? If they want to make the choice of putting this kid of religious content in their offerings, so be it. They could lose subscribers in the process.

    I think the party at fault here is, of course, the International Bible Society and whole religion of Christianity. Will they no be content until the whole world marches to the beat of their drum?

    Not everyone welcomes your message! Stop shoving it down our throats. Haha.

  11. The funny things about this are: 1. it doesn’t really bother me, though 2. I’d probably take the opportunity to cancel my subscription while making clear that this was the REASON for doing so 3. (to the point of whether they actually believe that people need to hear about Jesus in their paper in order to “find him”) I think these wackos are doing this for themselves. It makes them feel like they are “doing god’s work”. It makes them feel like god will love them more. It confirms, in their minds, that they are going to heaven.

  12. “I guess I’m old school in that I expect the new media to provide news. Is there really so little going on in the world that valuable space should be squandered on an ancient text describing an evil god?”

    Vjack, Apparently there’s a lot of white space to fill because I also read in the paper and watched on the national news that a woman was injured by her thong. Now THAT’S news I needed too.

    I hope that a decent amount of advertisers are atheists and decide to pull their ads for these mini bible editions.

    And, Exterminator, I LOVE your idea of overflowing the newspaper company’s dumpsters!

  13. (((Billy))) said something about a nude testament being printed in the paper. Perhaps someone should run an experiment: publish x number of papers with a New Testament and publish and equal number with a Nude Testament. Which one would sell out first? Which one would be least likely to end up in Ex’s dumpster?

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